Thursday, February 22, 2018

The sinner cannot leave his sin without the initiative and grace of God.

"As I live, says the Lord, I do not desire the death of the sinner, but rather that he turn back and live."  (Ezekiel 33: 11).

Today is Friday, in the first Week of Lent 2018, Day 10 of 40.

The sacred word today is heavy on the theme of metanoia.  Metanoia means conversion, a deep change of heart and a firm decision to return to God.  St Ignatius Loyola,  said that a sinner cannot leave his sin and return to God without the initiative and  grace of God.

"For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him."  (Philippians 2: 13).

“Oh, that today you would hear his voice,
‘Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion in the day of testing in the desert, where your ancestors tested and tried me and saw my works for forty years."  (Hebrews 3: 8 -  10).

Meribah was the desert place of testing, the combat zone between God and His people.  God tested the people to see if they had an obedient heart.   The people tried God by their obstinacy.  There ensued a battle of two strong wills.

"Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions."  (Psalm 51: 3).

“In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation."  (2 Corinthians 6: 2).

10 days gone already in Lent 2018!

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

You are Christ the Son. You are Peter the Rock.

"And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it."  (Matthew 16: 18).

Today is the Feast of the Chair of St Peter.  Chair here means Cathedra, a symbol of Authority of Peter and his successors as supreme Pastor and Teacher of the Church.  Why does the Pope have this Authority?  Because it is the will and plan of Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church.

Is the Pope a perfect man?
"But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”  (Luke 22: 32 NLT).

What is the core responsibility of the Petrine Ministry?
"After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," Peter replied, "you know I love you." "Then feed my lambs," Jesus told him."  (John 21: 15).

"Peter said to Jesus: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
And Jesus replied: You are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church."  (Matthew 16: 16, 18).

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The word of God came to Jonah a second time.

"The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: “Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you.”  (Jonah 3: 1 - 2)

The word came to me too a second time.  The Parable of the Sower reminds me of the time when the word of God came to me the first time.

"The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit."  (Matthew 13: 22).

In between the first and second call of Jonah, what happened?
Jonah underwent purification through hardship.  In the belly of the whale, he was thoroughly refined and dazzled by the illumination of divine truths.

Do you hear any call to serve God? Do not be afraid. Do not harden your heart.  To serve the Lord is to reign.  He who calls you is faithful.  He will anoint you, qualify you and equip you with all the wherewithal for the job.  All that is required of the sower is to scatter the seed.  How the seed grows is not his business. God takes care of the rest.

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Monday, February 19, 2018

I believe that You are a Father to me at every moment of my life.

"Your Father knows what you need before you ask him."  (Matthew 6: 8).

Tuesday in the 1st Week of Lent, Day 7 of 40 of Lent 2018. Consider  these truths of the Christian faith:
+ God knows everything.
+ God is able
+ God is willing
+ God is your Father
+ The Father knows exactly what we need and when we need it.
Why does this matter?  Because eternal life is knowing the Father, the One true God and Jesus Christ His Only Son. (John 17: 3).

"Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."  (Hebrews 4: 16).

How about a little self-talk like this:
#1. I believe that You are a Father to me at every moment of my life, and that I am Your Child!
I believe that You love me with an infinite love!

#2.  I believe that You are watching over me night and day and that not a hair falls from my head without Your permission!

#3.  I believe that, in Your infinite Wisdom, You know better than I what is good for me.
I believe that, in Your infinite power, You can bring good even out of evil.

Abba Father, grant us through the discipline of Lent that we may learn to moderate our earthly desires and learn to love the things of heaven. Amen.

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

You did it for them. In fact you were doing it for Me.

"Amen, I say to you:
Whatever you did for one of the least of my brethren,
you did it for me, says the Lord.
Come, you blessed of my Father,
receive the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."  (Matthew 25: 40, 34 RM).

These are some of the least of the brethren of Jesus:
+ Homeless
+ Hungry
+ Refugees
+ Imprisoned
+ Sick

The reward of ministering to them is huge.
"Come, you blessed of my Father,
receive the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."  (Matthew 25: 34).

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am the LORD.”  (Leviticus 19: 18).

"Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." (John 13: 17)

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

The necessity of the Temptation of Jesus in the Desert.

"At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert,  and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him."  (Mark 1: 12 - 13).

This is how Mark the Evangelist narrated the Temptation of Jesus. Pretty laconic but everything is there.  Let us examine the keywords and see how they apply to our Lenten Journey.

#1. The Spirit:  Note that the Spirit initiates the Temptation.  The word for temptation in Greek is scandalon which may apply to trials/tests or temptation to sin.  God never tempts anybody to commit sin. (James 1: 13)  But as a father trains and disciplines his children, so does Abba Father trains us.

#2  Desert:  The Place or period of temptation or tests.
"Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation,  for when he has been proved he will receive the crown of life that he promised to those who love him."  (James 1: 12).

#3.   40 Days:  The classical period of trials in the Bible.  Moses, Elijah and Jesus endured 40 Days of trials. The early Church saw the mystical value of 40 Days and prescribed 40 days as the duration for the Lent.  The Lent is an early institution of the Church and is also a period when the Catechumens (those preparing to enter the Easter Church at Easter Vigil undergo their final scrutinies).

#4.  Satan:  Our mortal foe.
"Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire conceives and brings forth sin, and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death."  (James 1: 14 - 15).

What are these sins?
"For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world." (1 John 2: 16).

#5  Angel:  Your Guardian Angel accompanies you closely in life especially in the Lenten Journey.

May God grant us all the grace to make the best of this Lenten Journey.

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Blessed are those who honor My Sabbath Day of rest.

"If you refrain from trampling the Sabbath, from following your own pursuits on my holy day;
If you call the Sabbath a delight,
the LORD’s holy day glorious;
If you glorify it by not following your ways, seeking your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs—
Then you shall delight in the LORD,
and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth; I will nourish you with the heritage of Jacob, your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."  (Isaiah 58: 13 - 14).

The Sabbath/Sunday Rest is a very important institution in Judaism and Christianity.
The Sunday Rest is a rehearsal for eternal rest which if you think of it is the main promise of Salvation.
"What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?"  (Matthew 16: 26).

"Blessed are those who honor my Sabbath days of rest and keep themselves from doing wrong."  (Isaiah 56: 2 NLT)

Sunday Rest comes once a week and reminds us of creation and the Resurrection of Jesus in a weekly rhythm that forces us to pause our hectic addiction to activity. 

He who keeps holy the Lord's Day is blessed in accordance with the promises. 

“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work,  but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work."  (Exodus 20:8-10 NLT)

"That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it [set it apart for His purposes]." (Exodus 20:11 AMP)

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

See the fasting I approve.

“Why do we fast, but you do not see it? afflict ourselves, but you take no note?”  (Isaiah 58: 3).

The people queried God and He answered them thus:
"See, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits, and drive all your laborers.
See, you fast only to quarrel and fight and to strike with a wicked fist!"  (Isaiah 58: 3 -  4).

The Lord knows everything, all things.  Nothing is hidden from Him.  (See Psalm 139: 1 - 18).  In short, on their fast days, they follow their own will and don't care for what God wants at all.

Now the Lord states the type of fast He approves:  
"Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking off every yoke?
Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry, bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house;
Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own flesh?"  (Isaiah 58: 6 -  7).

Note that the Lord says:  "Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose."
This is the type of fast that brings transformation of life and huge blessings especially during the Season of Lent.  You start from God.  "Father, what would You have me do in Lent 2018?"  Your Lenten resolution is not written on concrete.  It is like an open book which you update constantly.

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See the type of fasting I approve.

“Why do we fast, but you do not see it? afflict ourselves, but you take no note?”  (Isaiah 58: 3).

The people queried God and He answered them thus:
"See, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits, and drive all your laborers.
See, you fast only to quarrel and fight and to strike with a wicked fist!"  (Isaiah 58: 3 -  4).

The Lord knows everything, all things.  Nothing is hidden from Him.  (See Psalm 139: 1 - 18).

Now the Lord states the type of fast He approves:  
"Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking off every yoke?
Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry, bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house;
Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own flesh?"  Isaiah 58: 6 -  7).

Note that the Lord says:  "Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose."
This is the type of fast that brings transformation of life and huge blessings especially during the Season of Lent.  You start from God.  "Father, what would You have me do in Lent 2018?"  Your Lenten resolution is not written on concrete.  It is like an open book which you update constantly.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Choose life and prosperity or death and doom.

"Moses said to the people: “Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom.
If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I enjoin on you today, loving him, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees, you will live and grow numerous, and the LORD, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy."  (Deuteronomy 30: 15 - 16).

We saw through the Last Will of David (1 Kings 2: 1 - 3) and Moses /Joshua (Joshua 1: 1, 7) that genuine and lasting prosperity and success in life tied in the Scriptures to obedience to God's Law.

Ben Sira the Teacher states:
“If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God you too shall live; he has set before you fire and water to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses, shall be given him.” (Sirach 15: 15 – 17)

Today is Day 2 of 40 of Lent 2018.
The choice facing each of us is stark clear:
Life and prosperity / Death and doom.
Life and blessings / Death and curse.
Fire / water.

Scripture stresses again and again that it is good to keep God’s commandments.

Joshua made a choice for himself and his family:
"If you decide that it's a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you'd rather serve—and do it today. Choose one of the gods your ancestors worshiped from the country beyond The River, or one of the gods of the Amorites, on whose land you're now living. As for me and my family, we'll worship God." 
(Joshua 24:15 MSG).

Lent is the time to learn how to choose wisely. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you.

"Prompt our actions with your inspiration, we pray, O Lord,
and further them with your constant help, that all we do may always begin from you and by you be brought to completion.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen."

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Season of spiritual renewal starts today.

"Yet even now—oracle of the Lord—
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God,
For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and relenting in punishment."  (Joel 2: 12 - 13).

Today is the first day of Lent, 1 of 40 days. A Season of grace and mercy. A Season of spiritual renewal. A Season of ask and receive. It is the Season when we join battle against spiritual evils in our lives, in the Church and in the world.  Welcome!

"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds."  (2 Corinthians 10: 4).

Lent is a period of spiritual combat.  The Lord has put in our disposal spiritual weapons to demolish strongholds of Satan. Use the weapons.

"Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power.  Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil.  For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens."  (Ephesians 6:  10 - 12).

"Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions."  (Psalm 51: 3).

“In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.”
Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation."  (2 Corinthians 6: 2).

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Monday, February 12, 2018

Do you still not understand?

"Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers and sisters: all good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.  (James 1: 16 - 17).

Consider all the desires of your heart:  happy family, good health, great job, financial independence, etc.   Where is the source of the desire?  St Augustine teaches that every good desire has its source in God.  St James the Apostle teaches that the desires are perfect gift from God our Father.  (James 1: 15 - 17). Only He can fulfill them.

Consider carefully the questions of Jesus for us as we start Lent 2018:

"Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened?  Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember?..... “Do you still not understand?”  (Mark 8: 17 - 18, 21).

The great Season of Lent starts tomorrow Wednesday with Ash Wednesday.  You may experience dramatic change in your mind set by using the words below as self-talk.

"I let go of my desire for security."
"I let go of my desire for affection."
"I let go of my desire for control ."
"I let go of my desire to change the situation."
"I let go of my desire for perfect health."
"I let go of my desire for perfect family harmony."
"I let go of my desire for the perfect job."
"I surrender, I trust and I obey."
(Inspired from the book of Fr. Thomas Keating).

"Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." (John 13: 17)
Change happens not because of what you know but because of what you do daily.

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Consider trials joyful opportunities

"Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."  (James 1: 2 - 4).

How can you consider it a joyful thing when you are bombarded by trials in your marriage, health, finances and job?

You can do that I assure you. Have a little self-talk with yourself along this line and you will be pleasantly surprised.

"I walk by faith and not by sight or feelings. I declare by faith that God's word and promises which I trust is true.  Since my future and destiny is completely in the hands of God, nothing whatsoever can touch me unless Almighty God permits it.  If He permits it, it will be for my good and not misfortune."

Create your own self-taught if you wish. You can use a song if you are so inclined. But use it every day. Constantly in order to allow it to penetrate the heart. 

"Never stop speaking about this Instruction scroll. Recite it day and night so you can carefully obey everything written in it. Then you will accomplish your objectives and you will succeed." (Joshua 1: 8 CEB) 

I had suffered severe trials of one type or the other during Lent. It took some time before I recognized the pattern. The devil was scoring easy goals on my ignorance.  When I applied self-talk which I learned in the corporate world, I began winning.

Be resolved to make Lent 2018 your very best. Unleash the power of faith in your life and watch what will happen.

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Yes, I will do it. Be made clean.

"A leper came to Jesus [and kneeling down] begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.”  Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean."  (Mark 1: 40 - 42).

Many today need healing for their infirmities.  This leper approached Jesus with expectant faith and knelt before Jesus and asked for healing if it is in accordance with His will. 

Nothing is too marvelous for God to do for us.  (Cf Genesis 18: 14).  Since God has excellent plan for each and every one of us, since He knows exactly what we need and when we need it, can you trust His plan for your future?  He grants our prayers in accordance with His will and purpose for us. When our prayer is made with faith, it aligns us with God's will for our lives. 
"Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."  (Matthew 6: 10).
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."  (Luke 22: 42; Matthew 26: 39).  Jesus' perfect prayer is a model for all of us.

I believe in prayer.
I believe in the word of God.
I believe in in miracles.
I leave the rest to God.

The Christian is never afraid of God's will.  He knows that perfect love drives out all fear. (1 John 4: 18).   Are you still not sure of God’s perfect, unconditional love for you?
Don’t miss the opportunity that Lent 2018 starting on Ash Wednesday, February 14 provides.

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Friday, February 09, 2018

Come and eat bread and be satisfied without money.

"They ate and were satisfied."  (Mark 8:  8).

Jesus fed 4000 people with seven loaves and a few fish. They all ate and were satisfied with plenty leftover. 

Only Christ the Bread of life who knows exactly what we need and when we need it can perform such a miracle.  Remember the Wedding Feast at Canna? (John 2: 2 - 5). The people drank the best wine until they could drink no more.

Jesus fulfilled admirably the prophecy in Isaiah 55: 1 - 3).

"All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money, come, buy grain and eat;
Come, buy grain without money,
wine and milk without cost!"  (Isaiah 55: 1).

The Miracle of the feeding of 4000 people prefigures the Eucharist.
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”  (John 6: 51)

The Fathers of the Church sees the Eucharist as Food for the Journey. St Ignatius of Antioch, an early Church Father called the Eucharist the Medicine for Immortality.

Every single day, Jesus continues to feed millions of people with the finest wheat, the Bread of life.   (John 6 : 35;  Matthew 26: 26; 1 Corinthians 11: 24)

“It is written and forever remains written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God."  (Matthew 4: 4 AMP)

"He fed them with the finest wheat
and satisfied them with honey from the rock."  (Cf.  Psalm 81 (80): 17 RM)

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Food and Medicine for the Journey.

Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Noon Confession on.  Holy Mass will start in 13 minutes.  Msgr Steve Churchwell will be celebrant. Expect a great homily.
The Eucharist is Food for the Journey towards our permanent residence.  Reconciliation is the Medicine for the Journey.  The road we traverse is a dangerous jungle full of poisonous reptiles and other wild beasts.

Thank Jesus for the Food and Medicine for the Journey.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Jesus does everything well.

"They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”  (Mark 7: 37).

People who witnessed the healing of the deaf and mute man exclaimed that Jesus does everything well.
He heals all who were brought to Him.  He feeds everyone in His rallies.  He teaches with simplicity and authority.

The following Bible characters lived heroic lives and did all things well.

#1 Joseph the Prince of Egypt.
#2  Mary Mother of the Son.
#3  Joseph husband of Mary, the silent man.
#4  Stephen the first martyr, filled with faith and the Holy Spirit.

Although Jesus did all things well, He had nevertheless more than His fair share of enemies.  It is the same with each of the above Bible characters.  No surprise at all.
"My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials."  (Sirach 2: 1).

How can we do all things well like the elect?  Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit.  "I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.  For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want.  But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law."  (Galatians 5: 16 - 18).

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Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Persistent Prayer is Confrontation with God.

"Soon a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him.  She came and fell at his feet.
The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter."

Jesus at first refused to do it, setting up a battle royale between Himself and a woman.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that Prayer is a battle.  Read the entire paragraph below and mark it very well.

"Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort. The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant before Christ, as well as the Mother of God, the saints, and he himself, all teach us this: prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God. We pray as we live, because we live as we pray. If we do not want to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ, neither can we pray habitually in his name. The "spiritual battle" of the Christian's new life is inseparable from the battle of prayer."  (CCC 2725).

This Syrophoenician prayer warrior has practiced the battle of Prayer for a long time before her confrontation with Jesus.

Other battles of Prayer in the Bible:

#1.  Abraham praying to God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah. (Genesis 18: 16 - 33).

#2.  David praying that God spares his child of adultery with Bethsheba.  (2 Kings 12: 13 - 18).

#3.  The struggle of the persistent widow with the unjust judge. (Luke 18: 1 - 8).

St Augustine teaches that you can overcome God through persistent prayer.

“For saying this, you may go.
The demon has gone out of your daughter.” When the woman went home, she found the child lying in bed and the demon gone."  (Mark 7: 29 - 30).

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Tuesday, February 06, 2018

What is it that defiles a man or a woman?

“But what comes out of a person, that is what defiles.  From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,  adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.  All these evils come from within and they defile.”  (Mark 7: 20 - 23).

This is the word proclaimed by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Supreme Teacher and Healer of mankind. What does the Doctor say about how to heal the evil heart?

#1. "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."  (Psalm 119: 11).

#2.  "Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you." (John 6: 27)
Jesus is talking here about His Body and Blood given to us the Night before He died.  The Fathers of the Church call this wonderful Gift, the Food for the Journey. Journey of Faith. Journey of Life.

#3. The Sacrament of Reconciliation:  This is the Medicine for the Journey. This takes care of all the spiritual sicknesses, snake bites, fractures that are inevitable during the Journey to our Homeland.

When your heart and mind are cleansed by Doctor Jesus then what comes out of you will be pure and life sustaining.

"The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom; his tongue speaks what is right. God’s teaching is in his heart;
his steps do not falter."  (Psalm 37: 30 - 31).

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Monday, February 05, 2018

Why do you promote human traditions?

“Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”  (Mark 7: 5).

The Pharisees and the Scribes in their zeal for the law of Moses put human traditions on the same level as the word of God. Jesus said Not So.  But who determines what is the authentic word of God and human traditions?

"You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”   (Mark 7:  8).

We see today the crisis of obedience and authority and what Pope Benedict calls the "tyranny of relativism." 
Jesus cautions against making social traditions, government traditions, military traditions, family traditions, denominational traditions as the word of God.

This is why Jesus instituted authority in the Church to interpret authentic Tradition. Imagine what America will look like without the Supreme Court!

"You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.”  (Mark 7: 13).

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Sunday, February 04, 2018

The Feast of St Agatha, the Virgin Martyr.

"The five wise virgins brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Then at midnight, the cry went up:
Behold the Bridegroom is coming;
come out to meet Christ the Lord."  (Matthew 25: 4, 6).

Today is the Feast of St Agatha, Virgin and Martyr.  Agatha died at the age of 20 in 251 AD under the persecution of Emperor Decius.
Along with Saints Agnes and Lucy, she is mentioned in the Roman Canon in Eucharistic Prayer 1.

Agatha is the patron saint for these causes and more:
Breast cancer, sterility, nurses, rape victims, single lay women and so on. (Source: Laudate App).

"May the Virgin Martyr Saint Agatha
implore your compassion for us, O Lord, we pray, for she found favor with you by the courage of her martyrdom and the merit of her chastity.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever."  Collect, Feast of St Agatha, February 2nd).

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Saturday, February 03, 2018

Jesus cured many who were sick with various diseases.

"That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed.  The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons."  (Mark 1: 32 - 34).

After Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, the Spirit drove Him into the desert where He prayed and fasted for 40 days.  During this period too, He underwent vigorous temptation from the devil.  (Matthew 4: 1 - 11).  Now He was ready to start His ministry.  He exercised His ministry in three areas.
#1.  He taught everyone who had ears to listen.
#2.  On some occasions, He fed everyone who attended His revival meetings.
#3.  When the sick and the demon possessed were brought to Him, the Gospels report that He healed many and cast out many demons.

What does the Catechism teach about illness?

"Illness and suffering have always been among the gravest problems confronted in human life. In illness, man experiences his powerlessness, his limitations, and his finitude. Every illness can make us glimpse death."  (CCC 1500)

"Illness can lead to anguish, self-absorption, sometimes even despair and revolt against God. It can also make a person more mature, helping him discern in his life what is not essential so that he can turn toward that which is. Very often illness provokes a search for God and a return to him."  (CCC 1501).

The Church exercises her healing ministry through the Anointing of the Sick:
"By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them. And indeed she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the People of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ."  (CCC 1499).

Prayer for the sick:
"God our Father, your Son accepted our sufferings to teach us the virtue of patience in human illness. Hear the prayers we offer for our sick brother/sister. May all who suffer pain, illness, or disease realize that they have been chosen to be saints and know that they are joined to Christ in his suffering for the salvation of the world. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen."

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Friday, February 02, 2018

Ask something of Me and I will give it to you.

In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said: Whatever you ask I shall give you."  (1 Kings 3: 5).

"Solomon answered:... Give your servant, therefore, a listening heart to judge your people and to distinguish between good and evil."  (1 Kings 3: 6, 9).

Solomon asked for the very best of God's gifts and the Lord was pleased.

"The Lord was pleased by Solomon’s request.... . I now do as you request. I give you a heart so wise and discerning that there has never been anyone like you until now, nor after you will there be anyone to equal you.  In addition, I give you what you have not asked for: I give you such riches and glory that among kings there will be no one like you all your days."  (1 Kings 3: 10, 12 - 13).

God is always very pleased to give us the highest and best gifts.
"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"  (Luke 11: 13).

"... We ask that through perfect wisdom and spiritual understanding, you should reach the fullest knowledge of his will and so be able to lead a life worthy of the Lord, a life acceptable to him in all its aspects." (Colossians 1: 9 – 10)

The fruit of perfect wisdom and spiritual understanding is discernment of God's will for our life. Perfect wisdom and spiritual understanding come from regular reading and reflection of God's word and prayer.  Unless of course, it is given to you "here and now" like Solomon.  Most saints acquire it bit by bit. 

Sacred Scripture urges us to acquire wisdom and understanding at all cost.  These twin gifts are two of the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

"The first principle of wisdom is: acquire wisdom; at the cost of all you have, acquire understanding! Hold her close, and she will make you great; embrace her, and she will be your pride; she will provide a graceful garland for your head, bestow a crown of honor on you."(Proverbs 4: 7-9) 

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Thursday, February 01, 2018

Jesus is presented in the Temple to His Heavenly Father.

"When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord,  just as it is written in the law of the Lord."  (Luke 2: 22 - 23).

The Church celebrates today the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.

"The presentation of Jesus in the Temple shows him to be the firstborn Son who belongs to the Lord. With Simeon and Anna, all Israel awaits its encounter with the Savior-the name given to this event in the Byzantine tradition. Jesus is recognized as the long-expected Messiah, the "light to the nations" and the "glory of Israel", but also "a sign that is spoken against". The sword of sorrow predicted for Mary announces Christ's perfect and unique oblation on the cross that will impart the salvation God had "prepared in the presence of all peoples".  (CCC 529).

"The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;  and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted  (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”   (Luke 2:  33 - 35).

The prophetic dimension of the ministry of Jesus would bring Him into confrontation with the Jewish leaders which would ultimately lead to His death.
Where are you called to bear witness to the Truth?

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Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the First Friday of February 2018.

February 2nd , 2018 First Friday in February 2018.

The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:  Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 2nd month of the year 2018, we look at Promise #2.

#2. "I will give peace to their families.

What is peace?
"You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You."  (Isaiah 26: 3 AMP).

How would you like to enjoy this peace?
Why is it so important for families?
Peace is the foundation for joy, happiness and prosperity. The all encompassing Shalom that Jesus promises will make a great difference to you and your family.

"Perfect peace, inward peace, outward peace, peace with God, peace of conscience, peace at all times, under all events; this peace shall be put into, and kept in the possession of, whose mind is stayed upon God, because it trusts in him."  (Matthew Henry on Isaiah 26: 3).

“Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.  Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”  (John 14: 27)

Peace and contentment do not depend on circumstances.  No, they do not depend on money, good health, great family, good job, nice home and tools.  Peace and contentment depend on what Jesus, our hope of glory is doing inside us here and now.  Where Jesus abides, there abide peace and contentment. 

Jesus is the direct and efficient cause of peace and contentment in the heart.  Any other presumed cause or agent is there to exploit our weakness and insecurity.

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Friday, February 2nd.

For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

http://sfjweb.com/?q=content/sacred-heart-12-promises

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Last Will of David.

"When the time of David’s death drew near, he gave these instructions to Solomon his son:  “I am going the way of all the earth. Be strong and be a man!  Keep the mandate of the Lord, your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees as they are written in the law of Moses, that you may succeed in whatever you do, and wherever you turn."  (1 Kings 2: 1 - 3).

The Warrior gives his last testament as he departs this world. Let us consider another last testament in the Bible:

Joshua:
"After Moses, the servant of the Lord, had died, the Lord said to Moses’ aide Joshua, son of Nun: 
.........  Only be strong and steadfast, being careful to observe the entire law which Moses my servant enjoined on you. Do not swerve from it either to the right or to the left, that you may succeed wherever you go."  (Joshua 1: 1, 7).

The two testaments above establishes the open secret of success in life:  It is observing closely God's Commandments.  If you are on your death bed tonight, will this be part of your Last Will to your son or daughter?

In His Last Will [Testament] the Night before He died, Jesus said among many important things:
"Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.   As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.   And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth." (17 - 19).

Are you consecrated in the truth?

"Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.  So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate,  and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."  (Ephesians 6: 13 - 17).

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Where did the son of Mary, the village carpenter get all this learning?

"Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary."  (Mark 6:  3).

Let us consider for a moment how the home crowd see their homeboy, Jesus:

#1 Of course, he is the son of Mary, now a widow.
#2  He is the carpenter, the small business man with little success.
#3  The young man who refused to leave home and establish a family after his age group had become parents of grown children.
#4  The handsome young man who had no fiancee or girlfriend.

“Where did this man get all this?
What kind of wisdom has been given him?
What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!"  (Mark 6: 2).

The town's people were astonished that after less than a year Jesus disappeared from their town, he returned as a superstar.

But they could not reconcile themselves to this new reality.  And Jesus said to them:
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”  (Mark 6: 4).

God promises that he who is in Christ is a New Creation. (2 Corinthians 5: 17).  St Irenaeus, a second century Church Father said that "The handsome man/woman is the glory of God."  Jesus came to make us beautiful but many reject Him.  Whatever you do, never allow familiarity to breed contempt.

"So he [Jesus] was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them."  (Mark 6:  5).
Very sad.  What a missed opportunity!

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Do not be afraid; just have faith!

“Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?”  Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”  (Mark 5: 35 - 36).

Jairus approached Jesus believing that he could heal her daughter. Before Jesus reach his home, Jairus' daughter died. Everything seemed lost and hopeless. Jairus could have thought: "If only the Master had hurried and arrived while the child was still alive, he could have done something." Jesus knowing what Jairus was thinking, urged him not to waver in his original belief in spite of the New disconcerting development.

The Christian has a silver bullet in his armor against fear: Faith!  Faith is generated by prayer and nourished by the word of God. Faith destroys fear, worry and doubt.

"Fear is useless; what is needed is trust."  (Luke 8: 50; Mark 5: 36)

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Go home and tell your people what the Lord has done for you.

“Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.”  (Mark 5: 19).

Jesus has just freed the man called Legion from an overpowering demonic possession.  Out of sheer gratitude for the miracle, the man pleaded with Jesus to allow him to become one of His friends. Jesus had another mission for the man.  He sent him off to go and evangelize starting from his family.
Mary Magdalene had such an overwhelming joy and gratitude for the healing and rehabilitation that Jesus brought to her life.  She became a diehard follower of Jesus. She walked the Via Dolorosa with Jesus and witnessed the entire crucifixion and death of Jesus at the side of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

"Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed." (Mark 5: 20).

Has Jesus done any significant things for you?

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Saturday, January 27, 2018

What is this new teaching with authority?

"Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.  The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.......“What is this? A new teaching with authority.  (Mark 1: 21 - 22,  27).

Yes indeed.  Jesus taught with authority.  He is still teaching today with authority through the Church.  It is ridiculous for Jesus to found a Church without giving the Church real authority to teach.  "Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”  (Luke 10: 16).

The name of this authority is the Magisterium.  It comes from the Latin word magister, which means "teacher."  Actually, the divine teaching role of the Church stands on 3-legged stool:
#1  Sacred Scriptures
#2  Sacred Tradition
#3  Magisterium

Like the 3-legged stool, each of the legs need each other to support the superstructure.  The teachings of the Magisterium cannot contradict Sacred Scriptures or Sacred Tradition and vice-versa.

In today's first Reading from Deuteronomy, we read:
"I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kindred, and will put my words into the mouth of the prophet; the prophet shall tell them all that I command.  Anyone who will not listen to my words which the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will hold accountable for it.  But if a prophet presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded, or speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die."  (Deuteronomy 18:  18 - 20).

You may call this the legal code that establishes Authority in the future, Qahal, Ecclessia or Church.
It can never be exaggerated that Authority is at the core of the life of the Church.

"What is this? A new teaching with authority?"  (Mark 1: 27).
Actually not a new teaching.  The same teaching from the Rabbi Moses.  The word of God!

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Friday, January 26, 2018

I have sinned against the Lord.

"You have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife."  (2 Samuel 12: 10).

David despised God by his sin. I looked up DESPISE in the dictionary and found the following:
1: to look down on with contempt or  aversion 
2: to regard as  negligible, worthless, or distasteful 

Pretty strong language.

" Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan answered David: “For his part, the Lord has removed your sin. You shall not die,  but since you have utterly spurned the Lord by this deed, the child born to you will surely die.” (2 Samuel 12: 13-14).

Here is David at his very best.  No pretenses. No excuses. "I have sinned against the Lord."

"A clean heart create for me, God;
renew within me a steadfast spirit. Do not drive me from before your face, nor take from me your holy spirit.
Restore to me the gladness of your salvation; uphold me with a willing spirit. I will teach the wicked your ways, that sinners may return to you."  (Psalm 51:  12 - 15).

Psalm 51 is the best and greatest prayer of repentance.  It was good for David. It has been good for kings and queens, princes and princesses, soldiers and common people throughout the centuries.
God still listens to it with delight.

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Go into the world and spread the Good News

"Jesus said, “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. (Mark 4:  26 - 27).

What is your notion of apostolic work and endeavor? Hard work, boisterous energy, personal investment of time, talent and treasure?  Jesus says that the Seed Grows of Itself, that is, by the power of God and not by anything you or me can contribute.  So be humble and learn what this means.

"Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat — for he grants sleep to those he loves."  (Psalm 127:  1 - 2).

"Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.  And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.” (Mark 4: 28 - 29).

How much does God need and depend on our hard work and services?  As much as a mother busy in the kitchen needs the "hard work and services" of her one year old daughter.

But yet, we all have a part to play to evangelize the world.  This is the mystery.

"Go into the whole world, and proclaim the Gospel.  I am with you always, says the Lord."  (Mark 16: 15; Matthew 28: 20 RM).

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David and Saul

"David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the City of David amid festivities.....
Then David, girt with a linen apron,
came dancing before the LORD with abandon....
Then David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. (2 Samuel 6:12-15, 17-19).

The entire passage of the first Reading today (2 Samuel 6: 12 - 15, 17 - 19) is a type and shadow of the Eucharistic liturgy where King David is the High Priest prefiguring Jesus Christ our Eternal High Priest.  We know that David is a type of Christ.

Note the choice of vocabulary in the liturgical narrative:
David was dressed in a linen apron.
He sacrificed an ox and a fatling every six steps of the procession.
The crowd (all the House of Israel) blew the horn and shouted with joy as they processed with the Ark.
David danced before the Ark with abandon.
Acting like a priest, he offered burnt and peace offerings before the Lord.
David then blessed the people in the name of the Lord of Hosts.
Then came Communion time:  David distributed among the entire people a loaf of bread, a cut of roast meat, and a raisin cake.  With this came the dismissal of the people. (Ite Missa est).

Why is David the man after God's heart?  In spite of his moral weaknesses, David is humble and a repentant sinner.  Saul who lost his kingship to David was a proud and unrepentant sinner.  The sin of Saul, disobedience was described as similar to witchcraft and idolatry.  David committed adultery with murder but God regarded it as a sin of weakness.  When David was accused, he did not argue like Saul but acknowledged his sin. Thanks to his repentance, David left us Psalm 51, the most profound prayer of repentance.

God said of David:  "He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock of my salvation!.....
Forever I will maintain my mercy for him; my covenant with him stands firm. "  (Psalm 89: 27, 29).

David's legacy in the genealogy of Jesus Christ is a very important one.

Addendum:

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
(1 Timothy 1:12-17 NIV) 012518

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Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.

"Jesus said, “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. (Mark 4:  26 - 27).

What is your notion of apostolic work and endeavor? Hard work, boisterous energy, personal investment of time, talent and treasure?  Jesus says that the Seed Grows of Itself, that is, by the power of God and not by anything you or me can contribute.  So be humble and learn what this means.

"Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat — for he grants sleep to those he loves."  (Psalm 127:  1 - 2).

"Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.  And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.” (Mark 4: 28 - 29).

How much does God need and depend on our hard work and services?  As much as a mother busy in the kitchen needs the "hard work and services" of her one year old daughter.

But yet, we all have a part to play to evangelize the world.  This is the mystery.

"Go into the whole world, and proclaim the Gospel.  I am with you always, says the Lord."  (Mark 16: 15; Matthew 28: 20 RM).

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

God has chosen you from the world to bear witness to His Resurrection.

"The God of our ancestors designated you to know his will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of his voice;  for you will be his witness before all to what you have seen and heard."  (Acts 22: 14 - 15).

Today is the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, the Apostle.
St Paul was specially chosen to bear witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is the keystone of the the Christian faith. "And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless."  (1 Corinthians 15: 14).

We too are mandated by the Lord Jesus Christ to bear the same witness every day.
 “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature."  (Mark 16: 15).

"You did not choose me; I chose you. And I gave you this work: [appointed you] to go and produce fruit, fruit that will last[remain; abide]. Then the Father will give you anything you ask for in my name."  (John 15: 16 EXB)

"I will bear witness to You in the world O Lord.  I will spread the knowledge of Your name among my brothers and sisters.  (Psalm 17: 50 ; 21:23 RM)

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Trusting Divine Providence

"Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word,  but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit."  (Mark 4: 18 - 19).

The lure of riches:  Why are we tempted to acquire more riches than we need?
#1 Lack of faith that God will provide our necessities when we need them.
#2  We hoard riches in order to beat the the designs of God's Providence. 

God's gracious will is that there will be times and seasons in life for all creation. This Order in Creation, that is, Times and Seasons is threatening to many people. They would like to change it.  If they can, the world will have only spring time, always sunny, always full heath, purse always full of gold coins, etc, etc. This is ridiculous.

A man may have all the money in the world and store up all the food and drinks he can, but illness that is beyond his control will prevent him from enjoying that food.
So we see that Divine Providence is always in control.

"I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all."  (Ecclesiastes 9: 11).

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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Where are you anxious?

"Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word,  but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit."  (Mark 4: 18 - 19).

Among the chokers of life mentioned here are:
#1 Anxieties 
#2 Riches 
#3 Pleasures of life

Most spiritual writers say that anxieties is the worst of the 3. If the other two choke the spiritual life out of you quick and easy, anxieties act like a giant python that wraps you in a deadly embrace and kill you by slow motion.

First identify the thorns choking your spiritual life and move away from them. For help: what occupies your thoughts 60% of the time? Health, Family, Money, Job, etc.  Whatever it is, that is your treasure. That is probably what is choking your heart.

Now apply repeatedly the medicine of the word of God:
"Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 4: 6 - 7 NLT).

Since God promises to provide you all the money you need, fight and conquer anxiety about money.
“For the love of money is the
root of all kinds of evil. Some
people, eager for money, have
wandered from the faith and
pierced themselves with
many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6: 10).

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Forever I shall maintain my mercy for David.

"David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom into the City of David amid festivities.....
Then David, girt with a linen apron,
came dancing before the LORD with abandon....
Then David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. (2 Samuel 6:12-15, 17-19).

The entire passage of the first Reading today (2 Samuel 6: 12 - 15, 17 - 19) is a type and shadow of the Eucharistic liturgy where King David is the High Priest prefiguring Jesus Christ our Eternal High Priest.  We know that David is a type of Christ.

Note the choice of vocabulary liturgical narrative:
David was dressed in a linen apron.
He sacrificed an ox and a fatling every six steps of the procession.
The crowd (all the House of Israel) blew the horn and shouted with joy as they processed with the Ark.
David danced before the Ark with abandon.
Acting like a priest, he offered burnt and peace offerings before the Lord.
David then blessed the people in the name of the Lord of Hosts.
Then came Communion time:  David distributed among the entire people a loaf of bread, a cut of roast meat, and a raisin cake.  With this came the dismissal of the people. (Ite Missa est).

Why is David the man after God's heart?  In spite of his moral weaknesses, David is humble and a repentant sinner.  Saul who lost his kingship to David was a proud and unrepentant sinner.  The sin of Saul, disobedience was described as similar to witchcraft and idolatry.  David committed adultery with murder but God regarded it as a sin of weakness.  When David was accused, he did not argue like Saul but acknowledged his sin. Thanks to his repentance, David left us Psalm 51, the most profound prayer of repentance.

God said of David:  "He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock of my salvation!.....
Forever I will maintain my mercy for him; my covenant with him stands firm. "  (Psalm 89: 27, 29).

David's legacy in the genealogy of Jesus Christ is a very important one.

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A Kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.

"If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand."  (Mark 3: 24)

Today is Monday, 22nd January 2018, 3rd Week in Ordinary Time.  Today is the beginning of the Week of Prayer by all Churches for Christian Unity.  Today is also the Day of Prayer for the Protection of human life, especially Unborn Children.

Is there any connection between Christian Unity and Protection of human life? The key Scripture for today warns that "If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand." (Mark 3: 24).

The splinters of the Church in the 16th century brought about a worldview that gave birth to abortion and sexual license.  Families are divided against themselves, churches against churches, political parties against political parties.  If the Church is one as intended by her Founder Jesus Christ, don't you think that a unified strong voice proclaiming the Good News and shining the Light of Christ on the world will be more effective?

Pray for Christian Unity. Pray for protection of human life.

"Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death and brought life to light through the Gospel."  (Cf 2 Timothy 1: 10).

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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Come. Trust Me. I will teach you how to catch men.

“As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake – for they were fishermen.  And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’  And at once they left their nets and followed him.” (Mark 1: 16 – 18)

Notice how Simon and Andrew reacted to the call of Jesus.  They answered at once and followed him to become fishers of men.  Many are called to collaborate with Jesus closely in his work of building the kingdom of God.  It seems that few answer the call.  I imagine that fewer respond at once and with enthusiasm.  

The crisis of vocation in the Church is a mystery.  Why do few people want to respond to the call of Jesus to become fishers of men?  Why do people prefer to have temperamental, selfish bosses in their places of employment rather than Jesus who is the best of bosses?  Why should celibacy constitute an obstacle to answering the call of Christ to the priesthood when everybody knows that today one out of every two Christian marriages fail woefully, leaving behind them trails of unhappiness sometimes for life?  The psalmist prayed to God to show him the shortness of life so that he can gain wisdom of heart.  Why is it that in considering the call of Jesus, we are blinded to the truth of the brevity of this life and the eternity of everlasting life?

Lord Jesus, you are God.  You know all things.  You know the answer to all these questions.  You are the good Shepherd who has promised to provide all that your Church needs.  May your divine mercy be upon your Church and grant us numerous good vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Amen.

May we all, by virtue of our baptism, answer that call.

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Friday, January 19, 2018

What price will be too much for you as a disciple of Jesus?

"Then Jesus went home. Again such a large crowd gathered that Jesus and his disciples had no time to eat.  When his family heard about it, they set out to take charge of him, because people were saying, “He's gone mad!”  (Mark 3: 20 - 21 GNT).

Has anybody ever accused you of being crazy or a religious fanatic?

Jesus Christ our Lord Himself was considered "out of his mind?"  (Mark 3: 21).  By His relatives and friends.  Jesus warned all His followers not to expect decent treatment from the world. Those who are committed to follow Him should expect anything and everything from the world.

Throughout the centuries, the lives of many saints have vindicated the prophecy of Jesus viz:  the Apostles, St John of the Cross, St Joan of Arc to name but a few.

Are you prepared to pay the price  of discipleship?  Jesus was prepared to pay any price for our salvation.

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Jesus chose and called those He wanted and then qualified them.

"Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him...... that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach  and to have authority to drive out demons."  (Mark 3: 13 - 14).

Jesus chose 12 ordinary men from a group of disciples first and foremost to be with Him, that means to be His companions and friends.  As they become His close friends, they observe His life and habits. This will be critical when He is no longer with them.

Only after the Apostles have learned enough of His person and purpose did He send them out to preach.

Which comes first for you? To launch yourself into apostolic work or first to know about the Lord through prayer and study?

If you follow the right sequence, you don't need to worry about worldly qualifications. Read and mark this:
"And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory."  (Romans 8:  30 NLT).

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

How you can overcome fear.

"In God I trust;  I shall not fear."

The above verse is part of Psalm 56 which David composed at the most dire moment of his life.  Saul the King was hunting David to kill him.  David and his wives, relatives, a small rag tag army were living in enemy country where they suspected he was the man who killed their hero Goliath. David had no choice but to trust God with all his heart, mind and life.

Do you know why God permits you to be fearful for your family, health, finances, job and future?  So that like David, you can turn to Him to heal your fears.  Abba Father, the loving and provident God never intended man to be independent and self-sufficient.  We are fortunate that David had his moments of crisis and fear.  Thanks to this divine providence, we have the incredible revelation in Psalm 56 on how to deal with fear. This is one of my favorite Psalms.

"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?.....
Then my enemies will turn back
when I call for help.
By this I will know that God is for me.....
In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid.
"What can man do to me?"  (Psalm 56:  3 - 4, 9 - 11).

"For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith." (1 John 5: 4).

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

How David vanquished Goliath.

“My lord should not lose heart. Let your servant go and fight this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17: 32).

The above verse set the stage for the epic battle between David and Goliath.  David was certainly inspired by God to take up this mission.  Note David's reply when Saul tried to dismiss what seemed to him as childish presumption.

“The same Lord who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul answered David, “Go! the Lord will be with you.” (1 Samuel 17: 37).

Remember all that God has done for you. Your religious experiences are valid and gifts from God. The memory and remembrance will be gold mine for you in future battles.

As the two men joined battle, David said:  “You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have insulted."  (1 Samuel 17: 45).

What is in the Name of God, in the Name of Jesus?
#1 Presence of Jesus
#2 Power of Jesus
#3 Person of Jesus

Know who you are. Know who is on your side.  "If God is for us, who can be against us?"  (Romans 8: 31). I call this Checkmate!

"Blessed be the Lord, my rock,
who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war;
My safeguard and my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer,
My shield, in whom I take refuge,
who subdues peoples under me."  (Psalm 144: 1 - 2).

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Monday, January 15, 2018

The Choice, the Call and the Anointing of David as King.

What do you think of the choice, the call and the anointing of David as King?

“Are these all the sons you have?” Jesse replied, “There is still the youngest, but he is tending the sheep.”   (1 Samuel 16: 11).

Note that David is the youngest of the 8 sons of Jesse.  Jesse at first presented Eliab, first son, with the appearance of a General.  "But the Lord said to Samuel: Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. God does not see as a mortal, who sees the appearance. The Lord looks into the heart." (1 Samuel 16: 7).

"Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand, anointed him in the midst of his brothers, and from that day on, the spirit of the Lord rushed upon David."  (1 Samuel 16: 13).

God has found David His and anointed Him as King of Israel. In spite of the human failings of David, God did not reject him. Instead He said of David:

"He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the Rock of my salvation!.....
Forever I will maintain my mercy for him; my covenant with him stands firm. "  (Psalm 89: 27, 29).

David was especially chosen, called and anointed as a key stone in salvation history.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Presumption is the crime of idolatry.

“What is more pleasing to the Lord:
your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice?
Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams."  (1 Samuel 15: 22)

These are the words of the Prophet Samuel to the Saul, King of Israel.
Is there any area in your life where you believe that hard work, feeding the poor, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and the imprisoned is a good substitute to simple obedience to God's command?

God says that disobedience to a commandment like "Keep Holy the Lord's Day" is a rebellion as heinous as witchcraft or idolatry. (Cf 1 Samuel 15: 23).

"Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you, your burnt offerings are always before me.....
You hate discipline; you cast my words behind you! (Psalm 50: 8, 17).

"The word of God is living and effective, able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart." (Hebrews 4: 12).

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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Behold the Lamb of God. Behold your Savior!

“Behold, the Lamb of God.” (John 1: 36).

You may consider the lamb as little animal for sacrifice. Do not forget that Jesus was born in the manger where lambs for sacrifices were born. (Cf Luke 2: 6).

When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him, he announced enthusiastically, “Behold, the Lamb of God.”

Which of this would describe how you may introduce Jesus to your friends:
#1. Behold my Savior and Redeemer.
#2.  Behold the King of Israel.
#3.   Behold the carpenter from Nazareth.
#4. Behold the Great Rabbi.
#5. Behold the Son of God and Son of Mary.

Decide today who Jesus is for you.

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Friday, January 12, 2018

I desire mercy and loving-kindness and not sacrifice.

"Jesus heard this and said to them [that], “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”  (Mark 2:  16 - 17).

The above conversation took place between Jesus and the Pharisees in the house of Matthew, the tax collector who would become the Evangelist.

We read in the same passage:
"While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him."  (Mark 2: 15).

What do you think?
The Church is a 5-star hotel for saints.
Or
The Church is a hospital for sinners.

Let us consider a few Scriptures on the Mercy of God:

" For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,
And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings."  (Hosea 6: 6).

"Blessed are the merciful: for  they shall obtain mercy." (Matthew 5: 7).

"But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’  you would not have condemned the guiltless." (Matthew 12: 7).

The word Mercy is found in the Bible countless times.  Abba Father Himself is described as the "Father of mercy and God of all consolation."  (2 Corinthians 1: 3).  I like this so much that I use it every morning when I invoke Abba Father for His blessings for the day.

In the Heart of Jesus, we find abundant mercy waiting for everyone.  To receive mercy is as simple as ABC:
+Ask for Mercy.
+Be Merciful.
+Completely trust Jesus for Mercy.

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

We don't want to be exceptional. We want a king.

"We too must be like all the nations, with a king to rule us, lead us in warfare, and fight our battles.”   (1 Samuel 8: 20).

In the above passage, Israel rejects their eternal destiny: to be an exceptional, a people unique to God. It was a most uncomfortable place to be.  It is like asking you to sit in the front row during the Sunday Mass.  God wanted a people peculiar to Himself. The people wanted just to be like their neighbors.  The pastor's kid does not want anybody to recognize him as such.

"And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.' This is the message you must give to the people of Israel."  (Exodus 19: 6;  Revelation 1: 6).

Thanks but No Sir.  We just want to be like our neighbors.

The Church is an exceptional People. Yet, we like to compromise with the world on:
* Divorce
* Abortion
* Same sex marriage
* Sunday Observance

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will."  (Romans  12: 2).

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